An Excellent Idea, Distilled Into Awful Execution
Garshasp: The Monster Slayer is a third-person action-adventure hack-and-slash developed by developer Dead Mage . It’s an indie PC answer to many console-centered games of a similar genre and gameplay style, and it is a very noble effort to mimic what many high-budget games accomplish. It is an excellent first try from an up-and-coming studio, but it also manages to fall short on several key aspects. These key aspects, unfortunately, mortally handicap what could have been a moderately enjoyable experience.
The first thing to note about Garshasp is the graphics. It looks great at a lot of points, but is very inconsistent. Many characters look great, and setpieces look amazing at times, but oftentimes the areas between those setpieces are wholly bland and uninspired. At the same time, many breakable objects (that yield a small amount of exp and/or health restoration) blend in with the background, and will often be missed in the heat of battle (or just the boredom of traversal). The enemies themselves look well enough, and the bosses look rather nice, with exceptions. Of note, however, is the fact that the game is not very well optimized, and there are extremely severe game-breaking issues with both the game’s coding and graphics. Whenever I tried to run the game fullscreen on my widescreen monitor, the game would have tearing on either side (as if the game were built for a 4:3 aspect ratio and nothing else), and would crash upon starting a new game. It was not until I ran the game in windowed mode at 800x600 that it actually started up properly. Overall, the graphics are well done, but seem lazily thrown together and downright broken at places.
The gameplay of Garshasp is the familiar light attack, heavy attack usage that has been seen across many games, with different combos unlocking as you play the game. Early on, however, it seems that your options are very limited, giving you only a handful of short combos that seem very easy to execute, but another story to actually connect with. Much of your attack movement seems clunky, seeming to ignore the importance of attack and animation canceling, which in turn makes you commit to any attack or defense action you take. You cannot even block or dodge mid-attack, making even the beginning boss battle much, much more difficult than it should have been. I would say that this seems to be only for hardcore players, but even those players will be frustrated by the lack of tactical choices in your movements.
The story of Garshasp is... Mostly nonexistant, as far as I could tell. There were very vague narrations that gave you a very trite history of the world, but gives little reason that your character is progressing through the levels, or even to where the character is. There are a few early cutscenes that set up a little bit of story, but it doesn’t actually convey anything that seems to be of any importance, other than the identity of the be-all end-all bad dude you’re after, and the supposed artifact he has stolen from your village.
Overall, Garshasp is a notable game with a decent idea behind it, but it executes on previously done gameplay elements in a very shoddy and clunky way. It tries very hard to be something that it is not doing a very good job of being, and while is a very admirable attempt, the great graphics that are displayed at places just do not make up for a plethora of bad gameplay decisions and downright shoddy coding. If you want to try it just to give it a shot, Garshasp: The Monster Slayer is available on Steam and GamersGate now, but, as much as I hate to dislike games, I really do not recommend it.